NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Joe Piscopo’s Frank Sinatra impression, made famous from his days on “Saturday Night Live,” has gotten an update.

It’s no longer “New York, New York,” but “NJ, NJ,” the actor, standup comic and potential 2017 Republican candidate for governor is now crooning.

Piscopo performed the updated song — lyrics included “my New York and Philly blues are melting away” — at a recent charity event for the Boys and Girls Club in New Jersey, where his flirtation with running for governor to succeed incumbent Republican Chris Christie when his term ends in 2018 is out in the open.

It’s no joke, he said.

Piscopo, 65, gained fame as a member of the “SNL” cast, impersonating fellow Jersey native Sinatra as well as late-night host Dave Letterman. He also appeared in films and hosts a political talk radio show in New York and is a spokesman for the Boys and Girls Club.

He says he would likely run as a Republican in 2017, but isn’t ruling out jumping in as an independent after the June 6 primary.

“I’m seriously looking at it,” he said, promising to make a decision by January. “I love the people. I love the state. I know what has to be done.”

Piscopo has never campaigned for or held office, but considered running in 2004. What’s different now? He said he feels emboldened by the against-all-odds victory of President-elect Donald Trump, whom he spoke for recently at a Florida rally.

“When I saw Mr. Trump in Tampa and he invited me to speak, I saw it was contagious. It was the movement. It wasn’t the machine,” he said.

If Piscopo ran, it could ratchet up the national attention on next year’s contest and could also be a significant boost to Republicans who are in rough shape, thanks to Christie’s record-low approval ratings.

“I’m not saying you replicate the Trump formula, but money and partisan leaning are not in (Republicans’) favor,” said Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison. “But this is upending the formula.”

Others are not so sure that Piscopo could raise enough cash to compete effectively. A high level of name identification among voters goes a long way but might not be enough, said Ben Dworkin, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics. Dworkin cited the state’s tendency to switch from one party to another between governors.

“There’s only one Donald Trump,” he said. “Just because he did it doesn’t mean the playbook will work again.”

Piscopo would be joining a field that includes Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers (an adviser to Trump’s campaign), and possibly Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, who appeared alongside Piscopo at the charity event and joked that they could run as a ticket, is also considering a bid.

On the Democratic side, Phil Murphy, a wealthy, one-time Goldman Sachs executive and Obama administration diplomat, is in strong position. Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who co-chaired the Legislature’s investigation into the 2013 George Washington Bridge scandal, is also running.

(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (22)
  1. Sam Dennis says:

    Joe is too good as an impersonator to waste time playing politician. Besides, New Jersey politics has a way of corrupting people…. just saying!

  2. I say “Go for it, Joe!” Chris Christie is a big joke!!! I’d vote for you, Joe!

  3. He didn’t even get the role in “Rainman”

  4. Tired of NJ being 1st in all of the wrong categories ?#Rullo2017 Fix NJ.

  5. Vince Ramos says:

    He’s funnier than al frankenstein. That’s a good start.

  6. That’s the first time he has ever been funny.

  7. WC Montoya says:

    I’ve listened to Joe on his radio program and various interviews. Joe is not a Liberal. He may not be Far Right but he’s no Lefty. He has ideas and opinion that are well thought out. He also has to deal with a state that has a lot of Democrats.

  8. Why not ? Al Franken and Barry Obama were comedians.

  9. “I’m from Joisey…are you from Joisey?” If you remember that…you’re old. 🙂

    1. Neil Russell says:

      I remember when he did that bit with Debbie Harry, yes, I’m old!

    2. I remember that to, but I’m not the snow flake, or are you just a flake.

  10. Sorry to disagree with so many. Joe should stick to comedy. The political popularity contest should end. We need real representation not comedy.

  11. Jeff Stone says:

    Right now, they’re trying to upend Trump before the guy even takes office.

  12. Jeff Stone says:

    If a liberal says it’s not possible, IT’S POSSIBLE…

  13. Joe Piscopo was a very pro Obama supporter. The guy does not have one single conservative bone in his body. Pretty obvious he is riding the coattails of Republican wins in state and federal offices. All Piscopo would do as an R is obstruct the conservative agenda of 2A constitutional rights (he’s anti gun), fund all abortions, raise taxes, continue the same failed policies of Obama. He’s not a RINO, Joe is the average northeast liberal trash.

  14. Joe’s a good guy. Franken is the ultimate D-Bag

  15. Why not; its clear the base will vote for anyone as long as they have an R after their name and appeal to their low information emotionalism.

    1. Better than voting because of “V” at the end of there name ( yes the vagina party)

  16. Mike Tharp says:

    Couldn’t be any worse then Al Fraken!

  17. David Farley says:

    Mr. Piscopo, I know Al Franken, and you’re no Al Franken.

    1. And that’s a great thing!

      1. Golden Rudy says:

        … a very, very good thing at that!

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